My Little Jumble

(Amy & Jumble)

It is with a heavy heart that I write this blog. I just returned from a fabulous conference in Nepal, a country that holds a very special place in my heart and, of all my travels, remains my favorite destination. Yet, when I arrived in Hanoi I received horrendous news.

My girl, Jumble
(My little Jumble in her favorite place)

Immediately upon landing, I sent my dog walker, Mong, a text to let her know that I would be home within the hour, and that she could drop off Jumble at anytime. She replied, saying that she was in the country and couldn’t get back until 6pm. I didn’t think anything of this, as she told me prior to leaving for Kathmandu that she was going to take Jumble to her farm.


(I love my girl)

Meanwhile, at 6:30 I still hadn’t heard from her. I called and sent more messages, wondering when she was going to bring back my girl. Alas, at 8pm the doorbell rang…and it was Mong and her Mother, carrying only Jumble’s dog leash and her travel bag. At first I was confused – I asked, “Where’s Jumble”…and they simply replied, “She’s dead.”

(Girl in the village of Nagarkot)

Through broken English I managed to piece together the tragedy that led to my girl’s death. A stray cat ate rat poison and somehow crawled its way inside Mong’s home (whenever I leave town, Mong takes Jumble back to her house). The cat became sick and regurgitated the poison – and that’s when Jumble had access to the toxins. Mong took her to the vet, but it was too late – they couldn’t do anything for her.

(View of the Himalaya)

(Mountain Views)

I’m completely devastated as Jumble meant the world to me…as a single woman living in this bustling metropolis; Jumble centered me in a way that turned my apartment into a home; and she brought peace and serenity into my life amidst a sea of chaos from the streets below.

(Many faces of Nepal)

(Sadhus at Pashupatinath)

My little heart just melted every time she curled up in my arms; leapt off the couch to greet me when I walked through the door; and exuded enthusiasm every time I broke out the leash.

(Baby at Patan)

Our daily ritual of walking around Truc Bach Lake not only brought me sheer joy, but also provided the link that allowed me to integrate into this society. We became regulars on the morning circuit, making friends with locals, familiarizing ourselves with the neighborhood dogs on every corner, and connecting with the plethora of vendors that lined the streets.

(Boudha Stupa)

(Boudha Stupa – Wide Angle)

Everyone knew Jumble by name. They would holler out to us, ask to pick her up, pat her on the head (albeit not so gently), and greet us with beaming smiles.

(Sadhu at Kathmandu Durbar Square)


Jumble also displayed very endearing, yet quirky behaviors as she refused to walk over certain sections of the sidewalk, she was obsessed with chasing rats – of which there were many, and she would drag every morsel of food from her dog bowl to my Moroccan rug prior to devouring it!


She was an integral part of my life, and she will be greatly missed…

(Bhairab in Durbar Square, Kathmandu)

On a separate note, I did want to mention my trip to Nepal. I attended my first USAID State of the Arts (SOTA) Technical Meeting on Health. People from throughout the region, including Central Asia, Afghanistan, China, Philippines, etc., came together to share lessons learned and best practices, and to learn more about policy priorities of the new administration.

(Durbar Square)

I especially enjoyed hearing updates from Washington as they pertain to the Global Health Initiative (GHI); and more specifically, how PEPFAR fits into the GHI strategy.

(My daily jaunt to the Boudha Stupa)

I also appreciated the exposure to other related US Initiatives, such as Feed the Future and Global Climate Change.

(Faces at Boudha Stupa)


After spending years in Malawi, I vividly remember my first jaunt to HEB where I burst into uncontrollable sobs while marveling the juxtaposition between our mega-grocery complexes and the meager outdoor markets in Africa, where women sit by their pyramid of tomatoes ten hours a day in hopes of a fifty cent sale.

(Prayer Wheels)

When surrounded by so much abundance, it’s hard to believe that more than one billion people – nearly a sixth of the world’s population, suffer from chronic hunger. And because of climate change, rice yields are projected to fall more than 25 percent in most of the world’s poorest countries.

(Three Buddhas)

I had a déjà vu feeling as I listened to the conference proceedings. I felt as if I was back at Emory, listening to different Professors present their research findings from the field as I sat mesmerized, thinking to myself, “Wow, this is exactly what I want to do” I was quite fickle back then – as each week represented a potential career path!

(Monkey Temple)

And so again, as I listened to experts present updates on Family Planning, Emerging Pandemic Diseases, Global Climate Change, Behavioral Change Communication, Synergies between Nutrition and Agriculture, etc., I thought how great it would be to shift gears and focus on a new area of health. At some stage, I would love to get back to my original passion of water-borne diseases.

(Monkey Temple Stupas)

The conference, by and large, was spectacular. And the best part was its location – Kathmandu.

(Patan Durbar Square)

(Patan Durbar Square)

My trip to Nepal conjured up fond memories from my backpacking days, sixteen years ago. I spent several months traveling around the region, from trekking in the Himalaya to dodging charging rhinos in Chitwan National Park. Surprisingly, not much has changed – although I’ve traded in my $3/night room for the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Hyatt Kathmandu
(The Hyatt Kathmandu)

The famous Boudhanath Stupa, one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Kathmandu, was only a ten-minute walk from the hotel gates. Thus, most of my mornings and evenings were spent admiring the stupa’s massive mandala along with the colorful scene of the surrounding village.



I also optimized our 1.5 hour lunch breaks, and bolted every chance I got to see some of the sites within the city limits.

(Boudha Stupa)

(Boudha Supa)

Kathmandu’s Durbar Square remains the traditional heart of the old town and marks the site where the city’s kings were once crowned and legitimized. The traditional architecture is spectacular, and offers an exceptional locale for admiring the diversity of people. Sadhus often dot the landscape around Durbar Square.

(Nagarkot Village)

And on a somewhat surreal note, on our last night in Kathmandu we attended “African Night” in the heart of the city! I met people from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Angola, etc., (granted, for the life of me, I’m not sure how the majority of these people ended up in Nepal). Regardless, we had an African feast – complete with an African fashion show, African music and dancing!


I was sad to leave Nepal, but grateful for the opportunity to see that magnificent country one more time. Now I’m back in Hanoi, mourning the loss of my little girl. I’m simply heartbroken and in all honesty, probably still in shock. I am going to miss that little dog…

(My co-workers at Boudha Stupa)

Much love,

2 comments to My Little Jumble

  • Hi Amy,

    In sincere sympathy for you and your little pup Jumble. She had an excellent life with you and is undoubtedly frolicking in dogie heaven.

    Hopefully you will find another dog who will brighten you days.

    I too broke down crying at a mega grocery store when I came back from living in Treasure Beach several years ago. The contrast was just too much for me as well.

    Thanks for your wonderful photos and blog. I love seeing and hearing about your fascinating world and am sending this to a friend Signe who was also in Nepal years ago and took a ton of photos. I’m sure she will love you pics.

    Take Care, and Bless You!

    One Love,


  • Melissa

    I’m so sorry about your wee pup. 🙁 Losing a dog is so hard.

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